Activist Tools Workshop Updated


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We gave a workshop at the Digital Media Conference introducing beginner-friendly free software tools to social change activists. The slidedeck includes links for all the software we talked about and specific instructions for using pictures in LibreOffice. Many of the web-based projects on the website are described in detail.

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  • 10 - Linux Mint & Firefox = 8
  • I'm not affiliated with the website
    I don't consider myself free
    I consider myself on the road to freedom is the website that put me on that road and a tremendous resource
  • the problem is overwhelming: covers 30 categories of software and services
    at first, I simply got stuck staring at the page
  • Corporations and the government can learn a lot about you based on what you search online
    This can be used for advertising purposes, which sometimes I'm OK with – if I'm in the market for a new car, perhaps I don't mind seeing ads for new cars
    Other times this can be intrusive, e.g. when third-party companies build profiles of you (sometimes inaccurate ones) and sell them to advertisers
    Duck Duck Go using the term "bubble" to mean Google, Bing, etc. put you into a bubble and only show you results they think you'll like, e.g. political messages...but sometimes you want to learn about all sides of an issue or simply not be profiled in this manner.
  • Proxies Google search results
    Respects your privacy by not tracking what you search
    Imagine if a company kept a database of all your searches forever
    And accidentally or purposefully released that database to the public or to the government
    Ads blend in ← Don't like this
    Date range settings on left are convenient
  • Yahoo search results
    Highlights ads better
    No date filters, but sort by date option handy
    Image search takes you back to Google or Bing
  • Locking down your browser is probably the easiest thing you can do
    These plug-ins were very well together, in a cascading manner
    Meaning, what one doesn't catch, the next one does
  • Scripts from at least 19 different websites blocked for this one webpage
  • Ads are blocked on the right
    User comments didn't render because they required Javascript – may be a good thing
  • If I let everything pass through NoScript and RequestPolicy add-ons unblocked...
    Disconnect catches 69 trackers
    Disconnect reports 30% faster load
    and 18% less data
  • The first step to joining Diaspora is to pick a pod
    Friendica calls nodes portals
    Start by viewing the pod uptime list
    I originally wanted to sign up for because of its rating and it's in my country. There was a Sign In, but no Sign Up option so I opted for I figured there might be an advantage to a pod outside the US as well.
  • Once signed up...
    There was an option to connect to Facebook so that Diaspora could pull my profile pic and other info as well as allow cross-posting so I followed the prompts and logged into Facebook to allow this.
    Diaspora asked me for tags based on my interests. I entered several. Posts with the tags you follow show up in your feed.
    Looked for my friends so I could connect with them:
    Found 2 out of 13 people (all free software users)
    One search field, e.g. no search by last name only
    Convinced 3 people to join with me (wife, dad, friend)
    Problems: can't move pods (need to recreate user and friends need to reconnect) + pod admin can see everything
  • Needed help of sys admin to install
    Still a "temporary" installation in a Python virtual environment
    IRC channel was responsive and helpful
    Developer responsive via email
    Could not get video plug-in to work
  • Even though I had the least success with MediaGoblin, it's probably the most inspiring project
    A federated alternative to YouTube
    Sites like YouTube and Facebook centralize user data and create a single point of failure for an attack or a takedown notice
    A federated system like MediaGoblin routes around damage when a node goes out and makes it much more difficult to takedown content because it is distributed throughout the network
  • Jitsi uses SIP as well as other protocols
    Sign up and install were relatively easy
    Convinced my Spanish teacher in Guatemala (normally use Skype) and my father to sign up
    Both are Windows users and were able to get SIP accounts
    After about 30 minutes of debugging issues, had a high quality video chat with my Dad who is in NY
    Spent 1.5 hours across 2 days trying to get Jitsi to work for me and my Spanish teacher, but never quite got there.
    Still hopeful.
  • Email need to consider both service and client
    Currently use Gmail and feel locked in by it
    Have had trouble moving to Thunderbird because of overall slowness and unreliability of search
    However, use Thunderbird when I want to send or receive an encrypted message with GPG
    Tried Sylpheed and looks promising, but not enough experience
    I can run my own mail server, but it's a headache, especially with Spam
    Signed up for a MyKolab account – calendar, filesharing too, about $10/month/user
  • Could not get OwnCloud installed in time to report on it, but it looks the most promising to me.
    SparkleShare works via git repositories and was relatively easy to setup.
    Found synchronization slow, but not enough experience to say for sure.
    Sparkleshare: good for file sharing within the context of a project especially when version tracking/history is needed
    Not ideal for backing up whole computer or photo libraries because everything gets versioned
  • Tor is very easy to install
    No package to install
    Just download binary
    I'm not ready to use TOR exclusively, but use it occasionally when paranoia sets in
  • Best practice is to avoid using external programs to view browser media, e.g. Flash, VLC
    Download and then play in a virtual machine without Internet access
    Or use a Tors LiveCD such as Liberté Linux or TAILS
    I couldn't bypass this warning even when downloading rather than viewing (TOR detects filemanager as Internet-enabled program)
  • Won't always be the best choice from a technology or user interface or features perspective.
    But it's the right choice ethically:
    * for ourselves
    * for our neighbors
    * for our community
    * and for those who don't depend on security & privacy as they work on our behalf
  • Activist Tools Workshop Updated

    1. 1. Free Software Tools for Activists Will Rico & Deb Nicholson Digital Media Conference October 26, 2013
    2. 2. What we're going to learn about today ● Why use free software? ● User­respecting web services ● LibreOffice Writer ● Finding pictures for use, reuse and editing ● LibreOffice Impress and other graphics tools ● More tools you can explore
    3. 3. Made by a Community CC.BY  Username: EvinDC  on Flickr
    4. 4. “Vendor lock­in” CC.BY Rennett Stowe on Flickr
    5. 5. For Everyone username:laihiu on Flickr
    6. 6. CC.0 by Chris Webber from MediaGoblin
    7. 7. CC.0 by Chris Webber from MediaGoblin
    8. 8. CC.0 by Chris Webber from MediaGoblin
    9. 9. Downloading LibreOffice
    10. 10. Let's go here:­help/installation/
    11. 11. Choose your operating system...
    12. 12. Open the "system requirements"  in another tab
    13. 13. Over to Will for web services while  downloading finishes up...
    15. 15. BREAKING FREE ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Operating System Live CD / VM Images Android iOS & WP (N/A) Web Browser Browser Add-ons Web Search Maps Email Service Email Client Email Encryption Instant Messaging Video Calls / VOIP Social Networking Could Storage
    16. 16. BREAKING FREE...MORE ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Document Collab Media Publishing Online Transactions Digital Distribution VPN Web Analytics DNS Anonymizing Net Meshnet Server O/S File Encryption Mail Server XMPP SIP Server Hardware & Software
    18. 18. STARTPAGE
    19. 19. DUCK DUCK GO
    20. 20. ADD TO FIREFOX
    21. 21. BROWSING THE WEB
    23. 23. BROWSING THE WEB Chromium without blocking Firefox with ABE, NoScript, RequestPolicy and Disconnect
    24. 24. DISCONNECT ON SALON.COM Disconnect blocks 69 trackers on this page.
    26. 26. DIASPORA
    27. 27. DIASPORA
    28. 28. SYNDICATING FROM DIASPORA Botton Diaspora post syndicated to Facebook. Top Diaspora post syndicated to Twitter.
    29. 29. PHOTOS AND MEDIA Media Goblin
    30. 30. FEDERATION vs. centralized + vunerable distributed + resilient
    31. 31. HANG UP ON SKYPE WITH JITSI 1. Get free SIP account: 2. Download Jitsi:
    32. 32. EMAIL
    33. 33. CIVICRM
    34. 34. CLOUD STORAGE
    36. 36. TOR Even safer: use Liberté Linux or Tails
    37. 37. NEW SETUP / DIRECTION OpenNIC + TOR Locked down with plugins Startpage & Duck Duck Go Self-hosted, Riseup, or MyKolab Syndicate via Diaspora Syndicate via Diaspora MediaGoblin (eventually) OwnCloud (hopefully) Jitsi (when possible)
    38. 38. Finding Pictures
    39. 39. CC.BY.SA username: bytehead
    40. 40. Creative Commons
    41. 41. Creative Commons
    42. 42. A word about Public Domain
    43. 43.  and Fair Use
    44. 44. Picture Resources http://www.public­domain­
    45. 45. How to use Wikipedia for pictures
    46. 46. Make note of the Licensing
    47. 47. Right click and choose "Save Image As..."
    48. 48. How to use Flickr
    49. 49.
    50. 50. Check the licensing  and name of the photographer
    51. 51. Include both in the image title
    52. 52. Annotate wherever you  use the image
    53. 53. Let's open LibreOffice
    54. 54. Adding a picture in Writer Insert → Picture → From file... The arrows allow you to reshape stuff The hand allows you to move stuff Right click → Picture → Type tab Select "Keep Ratio" and then change the picture size Right click → Picture → Wrap → Spacing  This lets you choose how close the text will wrap next to the image
    55. 55. Let's open LibreOffice Impress
    56. 56. Adding a picture in Impress Insert → Picture → From file... Again, the arrows allow you to reshape stuff Again, the hand allows you to move stuff Using a picture for your slide background: Select "Keep Ratio" and then change the picture size Slide → Set Background Picture for Slide
    57. 57. Tools across LibreOffice are similar
    58. 58. Other LibreOffice Tools ● Calc – spreadsheet ● Draw – graphics and diagrams ● Math – formula editor ● Base – for coding Basic
    59. 59. GNU Image Manipulation Program
    60. 60. ...basically a free replacement  for Photoshop
    61. 61. Download:
    62. 62. Tutorials:­ design/gimp_video_tutorials/
    63. 63. Inkscape is what many people use  in place of Illustrator or Corel Draw
    64. 64. Download:
    65. 65. Help and discussion:
    66. 66. Orca is a free, open source,  flexible, and extensible screen reader 
    67. 67. Download: 
    68. 68. Help and documentation:
    69. 69. CC.BY username: Orin Zebest on Flickr
    70. 70. OTHER AREAS TO EXPLORE ● Document collaboration ala Google Docs ● Online currencies, e.g. Bitcoin ● Meshnets ● Phone rooting
    71. 71. LESSONS LEARNED ● Start simple ● Can't plug every hole at once ● Protect yourself when it is important to do so ● Use free services to syndicate to non-free until you can leave non-free services entirely ● Success requires bringing friends along ● Share the work & fun with communities of trust
    72. 72. WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY We need federation support, and then we need more people running servers for their friends and family...It's really important to get people using these things en masse... and running them! – Chris Webber, Media Goblin
    73. 73. WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY Get involved with free and open social networks first. Find ways to connect them to your Tumblr, Path, LinkedIn, or whatever other proprietary network. Use them often, and have fun with them. As your friends, family and colleagues join you, you'll find you use other networks less often. – Evan Prodromou,
    74. 74. THE WORLD COMMUNITY ● Participate ● Contribute ● Bring a friend
    75. 75. YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY ● ● ● THANKS! Now let's together